ORANGE LAKE, Fla. -- In a development reminiscent of a Seinfeld episode, a 12-ounce "Big Daddy" reduced-fat ice cream cup distributed by DeConna Ice Cream Distributors here turned out to be worth 270 calories instead of the 106 claimed on the package's nutritional label. Some retailers pulled the product and the distributor will re-ship in about two weeks, when new labels are printed.
"A lot of people were upset," said Joan Zeckler, a registered dietitian for Albertson's supermarkets in Florida, which carries the product. She said it had become a favorite of dieters following the Weight Watchers program, on which it was supposedly two points, but actually rated more like seven.
The product has not been recalled, said Michael Mosca of Sarasota, the attorney for DeConna Ice Cream Distributors. But, he said some retailers had chosen to pull it from their freezers, once informed of the mistake on the label. DeConna put the correct nutritional information on its Web site, www.deconna.com, he added.
"I'm not sure if anybody on our end has a real firm understanding of how it happened," Mosca said. The problem came to light last week, when the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale reported the ice cream had triple the calories and more than double the carbohydrates indicated on the label.
"The product has been around for a lot of years, and has had this label on it ever since the FDA required the nutritional value to printed on the products. We are a distributor; we license the name and pay royalties to Mr. [Vince] DeConna, the founder of the company," the lawyer said. "It's his likeness on the package," hence the name, Big Daddy, he added.
"Here's the scoop on the Big Daddy. The product remains a low-fat, low-calorie product, with 2 fat grams and 94 calories for a half-cup serving," Mosca said. The original label suggested the entire 12 ounces was one serving. The new labels will state the whole cup is three servings.
"We honestly don't know how this happened," Mosca continued. He said that the original manufacturer, the Gillette Co., simply sent the nutritional information over to Sweetheart cups and the labels started getting printed up that way. Another company, Highlands of Omaha, Neb., purchased the Gillette company, took over the manufacture of the ice cream, and redesigned the cup within the past year but kept the same nutritional information. "I can't tell you exactly, but I believe it's since 1995. The newly designed cup is less than a year old, but the product has been the same," Mosca said. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cookies-and-cream.
It sells for between 99 cents and $1.29 in grocery stores in the Southeast, and the publicity may have gotten it a new customer. Leah McGrath, the dietitian for Ingles' Supermarkets, Black Mountain, N.C., told SN that the vice president of frozen foods said he wants to order it, since it reportedly tastes pretty good for a low-fat ice cream.